A Texas woman has been charged with federal violations for allegedly sending ricin-laced letters to the president.
Shannon Guess Richardson, a 35-year-old New Boston, Texas, resident, was named in a three-count indictment by a federal grand jury in the Tyler Division of the Eastern District of Texas.
Richardson is charged with threatening the president of the United States, mailing a threatening letter to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and mailing a threatening letter to Mark Glaze, director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
According to the indictment, Richardson is alleged to have mailed three threatening letters containing the toxin ricin sometime around May 20 to President Barack Obama and Glaze in Washington, D.C., and to Mayor Bloomberg in New York City.
According to USA Today, Richardson is the mother of five, a former Dallas beauty queen and an actress who has had minor roles in TV series including The Vampire Diaries, The Walking Dead and All My Children.
She was arrested on June 7 in Mount Pleasant, Texas, and is still being detained. Richardson faces up to five years in federal prison for each charge if convicted.
In the ricin-laced letter to President Obama, Richardson allegedly wrote, "You will have to kill me and my family before you get my guns. Anyone wants to come to my house will get shot in the face," according to USA Today.
The letter claims to be written by a man who has served in the U.S. Army, is married and has children, and blames the president for not being able to retire.
"(I will) make sure you wont be runnin' this country in the ground any further," the letter said. "What's in this letter is nothing compared to what ive got in store for you mr president."
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the New Boston Police Department and the Shreveport, La., Police Department and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brit Featherston, Frank Coan and Ryan Locker.
John Delk, an attorney for Richardson's husband Nathan Richardson, said Richardson sent the letters in an attempt to set up her husband, who is seeking a divorce, according to USA Today.
Richardson contacted federal investigators claiming she had found a suspicious substance in the refrigerator and ricin-related internet searches on the couple's computer, the article says. Investigators say they found evidence that she sent the letters herself.
Richardson’s lawyer, Tonda Curry, told the Associated Press that her client will plead not guilty and that the government must show that the woman had “the requisite mental state” to prove her actions were a crime.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office states it is important to note that an indictment should not be considered as evidence of guilt and that all persons charged with a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.